Hiking with small dogs can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. While many people think of larger dogs as ideal hiking companions, there are several small dog breeds that are well-suited for outdoor adventures. This article will explore the best small dogs for hiking, highlighting their characteristics, stamina, and suitability for various types of hikes. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker looking for a pint-sized hiking buddy or a beginner considering hiking with a small dog, this comprehensive guide will help you find the perfect companion.

Key Takeaways:

  • Small dogs can be great hiking companions due to their compact size and adaptability on the trails.
  • Regular outdoor activities like hiking provide mental and physical stimulation for both dogs and owners.
  • Dachshunds, Yorkies, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, Beagles, and Norfolk Terriers are some small dog breeds known for their suitability for hiking.
  • Owners should consider the individual needs, health concerns, and training requirements of each small dog breed before embarking on a hiking adventure.
  • Proper care, training, and preparation are essential for small dogs to thrive on hiking adventures and provide loyal companionship along the way.

Why Small Dogs Are Great for Hiking

Hiking with small dogs can be a wonderful experience for both you and your furry companion. Small dogs have several advantages when it comes to hiking, making them the perfect hiking buddies. Here are a few reasons why small dogs are great for hiking:

  1. Compact Size: Small dogs are easier to transport and adapt to different terrains on the trails. Their size allows them to navigate through narrow paths and maneuver obstacles with ease.
  2. High Energy Levels: Many small dog breeds are known for their high energy and stamina. They have the endurance to keep up with your active lifestyle and tackle challenging hikes without getting tired too quickly.
  3. Suitable for Small Spaces: If you live in an apartment or have limited outdoor space, a small dog is the perfect companion for you. They require less space and can still get plenty of exercise through hiking adventures.
  4. Sociable and Adaptable: Small dogs are often more sociable and adaptable to different environments. They tend to be friendlier and can easily get along with fellow hikers and other dogs on the trail.

Overall, small dogs bring a lot of joy and excitement to your hiking trips. They are compact, energetic, and friendly, making them the ideal hiking companions for those who want to explore the great outdoors with a smaller furry friend.

hiking dogs

Why Small Dogs Are Great for Hiking

The Benefits of Hiking with Small Dogs

When it comes to outdoor activities, hiking with small dogs offers numerous benefits. Not only does it provide mental and physical stimulation for both you and your furry companion, but it also contributes to a happier and healthier lifestyle. Regular hikes can improve cardiovascular health and help prevent obesity in small breeds. Additionally, hiking allows dogs to explore their surroundings and engage their senses, leading to a more enriched and fulfilled life.

Hiking with a small dog can also enhance the bond between you and your pet. It creates opportunities for quality time together, fostering a stronger relationship and creating lasting memories. The shared experience of exploring new trails and conquering challenging terrains can strengthen the trust and connection between you and your four-legged companion.

Furthermore, hiking with small dogs is advantageous for those living in apartments or smaller homes. Their smaller size means they require less space, making them well-suited for a more compact living environment. With their adaptability and sociable nature, small dogs can easily adjust to hiking adventures and are more likely to enjoy the experience.

best outdoor dogs


“Hiking with my small dog has been a game-changer. Not only does it keep us both active and healthy, but it has also brought us closer together. He absolutely loves exploring new trails and his excitement is contagious!” – Sarah, avid hiker and small dog owner

“I never realized how much fun hiking can be until I got a small dog. She may be small in size, but her energy and enthusiasm are boundless. We’ve had some incredible adventures together and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.” – Mark, small dog owner and outdoor enthusiast

In conclusion, the benefits of hiking with small dogs are undeniable. From improved physical fitness to a stronger bond and a more fulfilling lifestyle, hiking offers both you and your furry companion the opportunity to embark on exciting journeys in nature. So grab your hiking gear, lace up your boots, and hit the trails with your small dog by your side. The adventure awaits!

Small Athletic Dogs (typically under 12 lbs)

When it comes to hiking, small athletic dogs can be surprisingly capable companions. These pint-sized powerhouses may weigh less than 12 lbs, but don’t let their size fool you—they have the agility and stamina to tackle challenging trails. Here are some small athletic breeds that are well-suited for hiking adventures:


Dachshunds are known for their tenacity and make excellent hiking companions. Despite their short legs, they were originally bred to track and hunt small animals, which makes them well-suited for covering long distances. However, be mindful of their size and susceptibility to spinal problems like Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD). With proper care and precautions, Dachshunds can thrive as trailblazers.


Yorkshire Terriers, or Yorkies, may be small, but they have a big personality and plenty of energy. Originally bred as ratters, they are adventurous and brave, making them suitable hiking companions. However, their potential knee issues require careful attention and leash training to ensure their safety on the trail. With the right training and care, Yorkies can be brave and adventurous partners on the hiking trail.


Pomeranians may be little dogs, but they have big hearts. These confident and spirited dogs make excellent hiking companions. They have thick fur coats that provide warmth and protection during cooler weather. However, their susceptibility to tracheal collapse means they may have limitations when it comes to intense exercise. With proper training, socialization, and regular grooming, Pomeranians can thrive in an active outdoor lifestyle.


Chihuahuas may be the smallest dog breed, but they are feisty and full of energy. With their curious and adventurous nature, they excel in outdoor activities and can join their owners on hikes in various terrains. I recommend that you be mindful of their loose knee joints and sensitivity to cold weather. Providing additional protection and proper training will ensure their safety and well-being while hiking.

While these small athletic dogs may be tiny in size, they demonstrate incredible athleticism and endurance on the hiking trails. However, remember that each dog is unique, with individual needs and limitations. Before embarking on any hiking adventure, it’s always advisable to consult with a veterinarian to ensure your furry hiking partner is healthy and ready for the great outdoors.

small athletic dogs for hiking

Dachshunds: The Tenacious Trailblazers

Dachshunds are known for their tenacity and make excellent hiking companions. These small dogs were originally bred to track and hunt small animals, which makes them well-suited for covering long distances on the trail. Dachshunds come in different sizes, including standard, miniature, and tweenie, each with its own unique characteristics.

Standard Dachshunds have a height of 8 to 9 inches and can weigh between 16 to 32 pounds. Miniature Dachshunds, on the other hand, stand at 5 to 6 inches tall and weigh around 11 pounds or less. Lastly, tweenie Dachshunds fall between the standard and miniature sizes in terms of both height and weight. Their small size allows them to navigate various terrains with ease, making them a great choice for hiking adventures.

Table: Dachshund Sizes and Characteristics

Dachshund Size Height (Inches) Weight (Pounds) Characteristics
Standard 8-9 16-32 Tall and muscular, excellent endurance
Miniature 5-6 11 or less Small and agile, energetic
Tweenie In-between standard and miniature In-between standard and miniature Combines characteristics of both sizes

Dachshunds are prone to spinal problems, such as Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD), which can be exacerbated by strenuous activities like hiking. As a responsible owner, I would advise that you take appropriate precautions to prevent injury while hiking with your Dachshund. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight are crucial for maintaining their muscle strength and overall well-being. Consulting with your veterinarian and practicing proper hiking techniques, such as using a harness instead of a collar, can help minimize the risk of spinal injuries.

With their determination, energy, and compact size, Dachshunds are well-suited for hiking adventures. However, consider their individual needs, limitations, and health concerns when planning your hikes. By providing them with the necessary care, training, and attention, Dachshunds can make excellent trailblazing companions, contributing to memorable outdoor experiences for both you and your furry friend.

Dachshund hiking

Yorkies: Brave and Adventurous

Yorkshire Terriers, or Yorkies, are small dogs with a big personality. They were originally bred as ratters and have a strong prey drive, making them adventurous and brave. Yorkies are known for their curiosity and energy, making them suitable hiking companions. However, owners should be aware of their potential knee issues and practice proper leash training and recall to ensure their safety on the trail. With the right training and care, Yorkies can be excellent partners for outdoor adventures.


Yorkie Temperament

Yorkies have a spirited and confident temperament. They are highly intelligent and eager to please, which makes them relatively easy to train. Their energy levels and curiosity make them constantly on the lookout for new experiences, making them ideal companions for hiking trips. However, you should provide them with mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

Yorkie Health Concerns

Despite their small size, Yorkies can be prone to certain health issues. One common concern is luxating patella, which is a condition where the kneecap dislocates from its normal position. This can cause discomfort and mobility issues for the dog. Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can help minimize the risk of this condition. It is also essential to protect Yorkies from extreme weather conditions due to their small size and susceptibility to heatstroke or hypothermia.

Pomeranians: Little Dogs with Big Hearts

Pomeranians are small dog breeds that are perfect for hiking adventures. These little dogs may be small in size, but they have big personalities and hearts filled with courage and curiosity. Originally named after the Pomerania region in Germany and Poland, Pomeranians were favored by Queen Victoria during the 19th century. Their confident and spirited nature makes them excellent hiking companions, always ready to explore the great outdoors.

One of the advantages of hiking with a Pomeranian is their thick fur coats, which provide warmth and protection during colder weather. This allows them to comfortably accompany you on hikes in various terrains and climates. However, you should be mindful of their health concerns, specifically tracheal collapse. This condition can limit their ability to tolerate intense exercise, so it is essential to plan your hiking trips accordingly and ensure they don’t overexert themselves.

With proper training, socialization, and regular grooming, Pomeranians can thrive in an active lifestyle. These little dogs are known for their friendly and adaptable temperament, making them a joy to have as hiking companions. So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your Pomeranian, and embark on an exciting journey in nature, creating lasting memories together.


Table: Pomeranian Characteristics

Size Temperament Health Concerns
Small Confident, curious, spirited Tracheal collapse
Coat Thick fur coat for warmth
Adaptability Adaptable to various terrains and climates

Chihuahuas: Feisty and Full of Energy

Chihuahuas, known for their small size and big personality, are perfect hiking companions for those seeking a lively and adventurous experience. With their curious and fearless nature, Chihuahuas excel in sunny outdoor activities and happily join their owners on hikes in various terrains. Despite their diminutive stature, these spirited dogs are packed with energy, making them ideal for exploring the great outdoors.

When hiking with a Chihuahua, be aware of their unique temperament. They are known for their feisty and confident personalities, which can sometimes extend to their interactions with other dogs. Proper socialization and training from an early age are crucial to ensure a positive and enjoyable hiking experience for both you and your furry friend.

Although Chihuahuas are generally hardy dogs, they do have specific health concerns that owners should be mindful of. Loose knee joints, also known as luxating patellas, are a common issue in this breed. I recommend that you take precautions to prevent injuries during hikes, such as avoiding steep or uneven terrain and using a harness instead of a collar for better control. Additionally, Chihuahuas are sensitive to cold weather, so extra protection may be necessary in cooler climates.

Pros Cons
Feisty and adventurous nature Potential for dog aggression
Compact size for easy transport Higher risk of knee injuries
Excellent energy levels Sensitivity to cold weather

Overall, Chihuahuas are fantastic small dog breeds for hiking. With their boundless energy and spirited nature, they will keep you entertained and motivated on your outdoor adventures. Just be sure to provide proper training, socialization, and protection to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience for both you and your Chihuahua.

Chihuahua hiking

Beagles: The Energetic Trackers

When it comes to small dog breeds that are perfect for hiking, Beagles certainly make the list. Known for their energy and determination, Beagles are medium-sized scent hounds that were originally bred in Britain for tracking and hunting hare. These friendly and outgoing dogs possess excellent endurance and scenting abilities, making them well-suited for long hikes in various terrains.

One of the key characteristics of Beagles is their love for the outdoors. They thrive on exploring new places and scents, which makes them ideal companions for adventurous hikers. However, it’s important for Beagle owners to be aware of their selective hearing and strong hunting instincts. Proper training and leash control are necessary to ensure their safety during hikes.

When it comes to health concerns, Beagles are generally a robust breed. However, they may be prone to certain conditions such as hip dysplasia and obesity. Regular exercise and a balanced diet are important to maintain their overall health and well-being. It’s also worth noting that Beagles can sometimes be escape artists, so I would advise that you keep them securely leashed or within a fenced area while on hiking trails.

Overall, Beagles make fantastic hiking companions due to their energetic nature and love for exploration. With proper training, care, and attention to their specific needs, Beagles can be loyal and enthusiastic partners for outdoor adventures.

Table: Beagle Characteristics and Health Concerns

Characteristics Health Concerns
Energetic Hip Dysplasia
Friendly Obesity
Great Endurance
Strong Scenting Abilities

Beagle hiking

Norfolk Terriers: Fearless and Agile

The Norfolk Terrier is a small dog breed well-suited for hiking adventures. Known for their fearlessness and agility, Norfolk Terriers are compact and athletic companions on the trails. These energetic dogs thrive on human and canine companionship, making them loyal and friendly trail partners.

Norfolk Terrier

With a playful and spirited nature, Norfolk Terriers are always up for an outdoor adventure. Their small size allows them to navigate various terrains with ease, and their fearless disposition ensures they are ready to conquer any challenge along the way. Whether it’s climbing rocky paths or exploring dense forests, Norfolk Terriers are always eager to explore.

While Norfolk Terriers make excellent hiking companions, it is essential to consider their unique characteristics and health concerns. Like many small breeds, Norfolk Terriers may be prone to hip dysplasia and other related conditions. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and proper care are crucial to maintain their hip and joint health.


Norfolk Terriers are fearless and agile small dogs that make excellent hiking companions. With their playful and spirited nature, they thrive on outdoor adventures. However, you should monitor their hip and joint health due to their predisposition to hip dysplasia. With the right care and attention, Norfolk Terriers can accompany you on exciting hiking journeys, bringing enthusiasm and loyalty to every step of the way.

Final Thoughts

After exploring the best small dogs for hiking, it is clear that these pint-sized companions can bring immense joy and companionship on outdoor adventures. Whether you choose a Dachshund, Yorkie, Pomeranian, Chihuahua, Beagle, Norfolk Terrier, or any other small breed, it is good practice to consider their individual needs and health concerns. By providing proper care, training, and preparation, small dogs can thrive in the great outdoors and become your ultimate hiking buddy.

Try to be mindful of their specific limitations, such as potential spinal issues for Dachshunds or loose knee joints for Chihuahuas. With the right precautions and attention, you can create wonderful memories with your small furry friend while exploring nature’s beauty.

So, grab your hiking boots, pack your essentials, and embark on an exciting journey with your small dog. Together, you can conquer trails, breathe in the fresh air, and form an unbreakable bond that will last a lifetime. Happy hiking!


Are small dogs suitable for hiking?

Yes, many small dog breeds are well-suited for hiking due to their energy levels and adaptability on trails.

What are the benefits of hiking with small dogs?

Hiking with small dogs provides mental and physical stimulation, improves cardiovascular health, enhances the bond between owner and pet, and allows dogs to explore their surroundings.

Which small dog breeds are best for hiking?

Some small dog breeds that are well-suited for hiking include Dachshunds, Yorkies, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, Beagles, and Norfolk Terriers.

What precautions should I take when hiking with small dogs?

I recommend that you consider their individual needs, health concerns, and limitations. Proper training, socialization, leash control, and protection from extreme weather conditions are essential.

Can small dogs handle challenging hikes?

Yes, small athletic dogs like Dachshunds, Yorkies, and Pomeranians have the energy and endurance to tackle challenging hikes despite their small size.

Do small dogs have any specific health concerns when hiking?

Some small dog breeds may be prone to spinal problems, knee issues, tracheal collapse, or hip and joint conditions. I recommend that you be aware of these concerns and take appropriate precautions.

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